There was plenty to cheer about at Bowman Elementary in Hayward. For the past five years, Bowman has made significant gains in the state test scores even though most kids here are English learners.
First, teachers had to learn how to teach to students whose first language is not English.
"We've gotten much better at assessing students and then analyze that data, so we know which students are falling behind and which ones are moving forward so then we can analyze what's working and what's not," said teacher Peter Wilson.
The staff works as a team, never individually.
"They have zeroed-in on a few instructional strategies to work on as a time and they talk to each other, they learn from one another, they observe each other in the classroom," said Superintendent Dale Vigil, Ph.D.
Each Bowman student has an academic and life goals. They are rewarded every time they meet one of them.
"It gives them this internal motivation of why continue learning and why is it that they have to dedicate the time to work in the classroom," said Principal Maria Elena Rivera.
In Addition to meeting their target growth, California schools must also demonstrate they are closing the achievement gap two years in a row. Bowman has done it five years in a row.
This year 53 percent of schools in California made their API growth target, an increase of 8 percent from 2007. This progress report is required under the No Child Left Behind Act.
But Denise Pope of the Stanford School of Education is critical of "No Child Left Behind."
"They have to fill in bubbles and teach the kids just to spit back, regurgitate, memorize and also as an assessment it's not measuring some of the things we'd like to see in kids, creativity, the ability to problem solve," said Pope.
California has one of the most rigorous standards in the nation, and keeping up with those high standards can either motivate or put pressure on schools.